Across Europe, the world’s finest football teams often sport morally reprehensible betting companies and loan sharks abreast their jerseys. Fans across Europe not only accept but also expect trading moral integrity for financial gain. In December 2022, Nottingham Forest Football Club decided that its football players would wear the crimson-red Garibaldi symbol of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) on their shirts in the premier league to advocate for global change. Nottingham Forest and the UNCHR have forged a partnership that could raise expectations of sporting institutions across Europe.
About the UNCHR
Since its foundation in 1950, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has provided aid to refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and those without a state to call home. The UNCHR is the largest and most significant NGO to wage war against the displacement of the persecuted.
The Issue of Displacement
Despite forward momentum in many socio-economic issues across the globe, there is unprecedented displacement in both the developed and undeveloped worlds. For the first time in recorded history, approximately half of the displaced individuals reside in urban areas.
How the UNCHR Provides Shelter
As of 2022, more than 6.6 million refugees are living in camps, demonstrating how homelessness manifests as a result of displacement. Whilst camps can provide decent emergency shelters, issues such as isolation, aid dependency, disease, fire, sanitation and personal safety arise.
When all other solutions have been exhausted, the UNCHR constructs settlements for displaced individuals. The UNCHR has formulated a master plan approach, which strives to provide shelter that does not fall foul of the previously stated risks. Well-planned settlements are not prone to fire or disease outbreaks, as sanitation and spacing are well-managed. Food, water, toilets and medical care are all within walking distance of a resident of the ideal settlement. Footpaths should always be well-lit, as there is also a particular emphasis on safety for women.
To avoid the risks that encumber vast refugee camps and settlements, the UNCHR distributes tents and materials from centers in Dubai, Copenhagen and Durban. It also invests in communal shelters and new homes. Furthermore, the UNCHR provides self-help schemes that assist displaced individuals in reconstructing and constructing new homes.
The UNCHR in Pakistan
When a barrage of severe flooding struck Pakistan in late 2022, the UNCHR sprung into action. The enormous monsoon impacted the lives of 33 million Pakistani people, killing more than a thousand. Those who remained faced the grim prospect of homelessness during a natural disaster, as the flood destroyed 300,000 homes and damaged 650,000 more.
During the aftermath, the UNCHR coordinated closely with Pakistani authorities. Tireless UNCHR volunteers helped distribute some 10,000 tents to the devastated Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Balochistan regions. The UNCHR has pledged to assist 50,000 households by providing shelter, food and clean water to the most vulnerable victims of this disaster. In addition to providing immediate relief, the UNCHR is liaising with local authorities to build up stockpiles of essential amenities should the flooding escalate.
Why the Partnership Between Nottingham Forest and the UNCHR is One to Celebrate
Fans of Nottingham Forest should be proud of their club. Sitting in the Trent End or the Brian Clough Stand, they will see the UNCHR featured on red banners, screens and flags. They will hear the announcer pay tribute to the refugees of Pakistan and elsewhere. But most importantly, the 4.7 billion fans who tune in to watch the premier league will see a football club that proudly uses its enormous platform to fight against poverty. If every football team in team Europe were to trade a sponsor for a charity of the UNCHR’s merit, billions of people would have exposure to charitable causes daily. Indeed, if every team in every sport were like-minded, the televised sport could become a vehicle for enormous social change. In the meantime, fans of positive change can celebrate that Nottingham Forest and the UNCHR are making a start.
– David Smith